“To promote a safe secure environment for children to play and explore both the inside and outside spaces, to foster friendships and working with others within a group with no labels on ability.’ – My mission statement.
This is my own personal mission statement. Although I am only on the first step of the ladder to becoming a teacher, this mission statement reflects my view on what I feel would be the ‘ideal’ school, the reasons why I will go throughout the course of this essay.
I have chosen these three aspects of education, as a trainee teacher am I am under the illusion these aspects enhance education, that there is evidence to support use within the classroom. From teaching practice and policy, I feel that they often get overlooked. Higgins argues that ‘for the instrumentalist, life is simply getting by’ (2008, p.9) so with this ideology in mind, it is hard to see a place for these aspects within this ideology. Likewise, the classical humanist view also emphasizes ‘academic curriculum in which classics, history, mathematics, grammar, and literature predominate.’ (Carr, 1998 p.327).
I view my role as a teacher as something to make a difference to peoples lives, rather than assess them and to put them in boxes.I feel it fits into the constructivist ideology. I disagree with The classical humanist view of ‘to describe learning as being of intrinsic worth, provided it falls within an accepted subject discipline’ (Bates et al 2006 p119) Tahirsylaj uses the term ‘social Darwinism’ (2017, P.223) which I feel applies to classical humanism, this saddens me as they take away the joy and wonder that education should provide. Higgins argues that ‘for the instrumentalist, life is simply getting by’ (2008, p.9) I feel that these ideologies don’t factor in happiness. It is all well and good creating a productive, intelligent member of society but what is the point if that individual is unhappy and understimulates, develops vices and ultimately fulfills their role within society and dies. I see little point in this cycle unless there are periods of happiness highlighting my belief for social change. Reay in 2016 suggested that in the UK poverty was still a problem, (p.288) which I assume is trying to convey a message of reconstructionism ideology, with poverty comes depression and low quality of life, I feel outdoor education can play a big role in improving quality of life. ‘A progressive ideology is the notion of student or learner autonomy, students will be empowered to enable them to take more control of their own learning and their own lives’ (Bates et al 2006 p118). The keyword that draws me to this ideology is empowers, through empowering children we can help them help themselves, rather than telling them what they need to do, it allows them freedom to make up their own minds, views and ultimately have some control over their futures, which the National curriculum states ‘prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.’ (DFE 2014, p. 5). I base my whole teacher ethos on this statement.
‘To miss the forest because one is focusing on the trees’ (p.2 Quay and Seaman) rephrased a quote by Dewey talking about the purpose of education supported by the classical humanist ideology often education becomes narrow minded and misses the bigger picture, such as a concentration and government pressure on results often caused by the league tables and ultimately money. The classical humanist ‘formal examinations.’ (Carr, 1998 p.327) Can often become the teacher’s focus, with SATS pressures on performance within the classroom on the teacher.
My mission statement refers to inside and outside spaces. I feel that from my teaching practices one of the most important spaces learning took place was outside Michael Gove 2012, quoted in stated that we lived in an ‘unequal society’ (https://www-dawsonera-com.ezproxy.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/readonline/9781447339298 ). One of the equalities I feel can be tackled in school is access to the outdoors; During a teaching placement, I was saddened to find out children within the class had not had the freedom of splashing in muddy puddles. In 2012 White found evidence that ‘mediated outdoor experiences can improve global self-concept, trust, group cohesion, and improved social interactions with peers, school staff, and family members.’ (P.21) Bandura suggests that popularity can increase with a ‘high sense of academic and self refulative efficacy’ (1993, p.138). so this is another area of development being outside can have an influence on. This reiterates my view of how important making use of this outside space is. I have however had the extreme of children who spend dusk to dawn following the local hunt on a Saturday. I still believe that being outside is an experience all children are entitled to. James and Williams suggest that although it doesn’t often get dedicated time within the classroom, learning outdoors can be beneficial to the child and even help children who struggle within the classroom environment. (2017,p.59).
By going outdoors it is widening the learning of the child, this clashes with the Classical humanist view of valuing subjects that add to ‘cultural heritage’ such as maths and literacy, however there is nothing to say that these subjects can not take place within this different environment, however in a classical humanist classroom this is something that wouldn’t happen as ‘Learning is systematic, disciplined and largely book-based.’ (Carr, 1998 p.327)
There is, however, an inequality described by Warren et al in American outdoor education, there is issues with different races feeling excluded and the notion that gender can play a part in exclusion in outdoor education, (p.90- 91 2014) although this study did not take place in the UK there is still the stereotype that is well represented in the nursery rhyme ‘slugs and snails and puppy dog tail.. that’s what little boys are made of’ giving the illusion that outdoors is more commonly associated with boys and therefore not entirely equal.
Although I originally felt that outdoor learning had a more reconstructivist ideology but due to the gender bias highlighted by Warren et al (2014) it suggests that it is not about social justice for all, Reconstructionists ‘believed in the power of education to renew and transform society.’ (p.623, 2017 Tahirsylaj ) as there is still a slight hint at a gender bias in this aspect of education, so I feel it is a more progressive ideology. Although it has been suggested that the two are linked, Mosier argues that Progressivism is ‘vague’ and reconstructivism has arisen from this ideology but reconstructivism ‘furthering and extending this philosophy’ (Mosier, 1951, p.86). I feel that through forest schools you can promote some social change, help open doors for people and empower people. This links back to the progressive ‘empower’ (Bates et al 2006 p118).
This aspect does clash with the instrumentalist ideology of ‘The student who scores well on standardized tests and goes on to earn well in standardized jobs’. (Higgins 2008 p.11) as there is no assessment or standardized jobs to come out of this learning experience.
My mission statement refers to mixed ability groups, this is something I feel is important, by using mixed ability groupings the children don’t have a label (DWECK) By the children not having a label on their ability, contested by Harris suggested the classical humanist provides a core curriculum, focusing on what is valuable in their cultural heritage for elite pupils. (1977 p. 50).
My mission statement emphasizes friendship and mixed ability groupings, both encapture the notion of inclusion, something I encountered on teaching placements and I feel should underpin my teacher identity. Looking at this though the ideology of reconstructaionsim, I feel promoting acceptance of others can help provide social change and a better future for these children, It does also come under the progressive idea of empowerment.
By using mixed ability groups Vygotsky (1934/1986, 1978) and Piaget (1951). Quoted in Sawyer Et AL p.260 ‘These theorists both suggest that when students work together, they exchange ideas, engage in debate, and make logical arguments in support of their respective positions’. http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=8&sid=87dd748a-7fb0-4025-94db-2ffde6de35f0%40sessionmgr4009
it promotes the idea of togetherness, as poverty is still a problem I feel by children all being the ‘same’ It could help them not live up to their label, promoting social change. Green (1990) quoted in Reay (2006) suggested that England used schooling to keep control over the less well-off groups. (p.292) This stance is echoed by Florian and Black suggest that a school’s policy may make it hard for teachers to use ‘alternate groupings’ (2011, p.819) I feel this suggests that the policy put in place can create inequality for children, that this is an example of classical humanist view of education for the elite can subtly get in the way of everyday practice. I feel that these two quotes suggest the Reconstrutavist ideology of education as the highlight a need for social change. With the argument by Reay highlighting in 2006, that children from middle-class backgrounds had a higher chance to stay in education past 16. (p.291) it is important to make sure all children have the same chances in life, It does not give a reason, such as parental influence but it could be lack of support at home, it does not necisaarianly mean it’s a failing by the educational system.
By using mixed groups it is challenging the view of what Harris suggested the classical humanist idea of education elite pupils. (1977 p. 50) using mixed ability groups is taking away the ‘top group’ elitist attitude from the classroom, it is putting everyone on the same level and promoting equality and inclusion of all, regardless of background. As Reay argues against the classical humanist view and suggested that ‘class is made and given value through culture’ (2006, p.290) this argues my viewpoint of equality if class is given though society, surely it is a synthetic problem and can easily be dispelled. I feel this comes under the reconstructive ideology of promoting social change.
However, Jackson and Marsden( 1962), quoted Smyth (2016 argue that class could be ‘something in the blood’ (p.275) so in terms of promoting social mobility, from this viewpoint, it is something you are born with.
Glazzard argues that inclusion is about social justice and ‘high aspirations for all’ (2013, p.183) thus putting it within the Reconstructionism ideology, which I feel my mission statement echoed.
An instrumentalist view of people becoming a workforce further alienates SEN children, Glazzard highlighted that children who cant take part in society in a entrapaneral way are being treated in a less equal way (2013, p.184) however Reay suggested that we have an education system that ‘working class education is made to serve middle-class interests’ (2006 p.294) suggesting that the educational system we have now is both instrumentalist and classical humanism ideologies. I feel as a teacher inclusion is one of the most important elements to have in the classroom.
However using same ability goupings can encapture the classical humanist ideology, In making my argument balanced I can see the pros of this ideology, It provides motivation to be the best what Richmond describes as when the child has a ‘desire for personal growth’ and ‘intrinsic motivation’ (259 ) This would work best with higher attainers.I am cautious though that the classical humanist ideology of traditional elite education does, in fact suggest that ‘here is also a tendency to describe learning as being of intrinsic worth, provided it falls within an accepted subject discipline… these criteria of classical humanist education’ (Bates et al 2006 p119). Through reflecting on this, I do feel that in terms of low ability children, mixed groups are a fantastic opportunity for behavior to be modeled by higher ability children and a chance to make use of Vygotsky (reference) the more knowledgeable other, linking to the reconstructivist and progressive view.
In my limited teaching experience, I did find that children who were in the higher groups on the whole were better behaved and therefore would stay on task longer. Blass et al talk about the idea of like-minded people wanting to stick together, ‘the desire to study with others of a similar background’ (2011, p.6). I got the impression from this article that they had a problem with the neoliberal society we are in currently and how it causes problems such as social isolation, backing up my argument for the inclusion of all children.
I feel that Hill and Reas are highlighting the reconstructive ideology and the need to behave in this way. By using mixed ability groups, you can promote this inclusive culture.
‘Instrumentalism denotes a view of the curriculum that makes reference to a future state of affairs for the learner which is external to the setting in which the learning is taking place.’(Scott http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=4&sid=473a0646-966a-4ae0-b7aa-1fe576d5e0c2%40sessionmgr4006 p.19) By promoting collaborative learning, you are promoting social skills, these social skills could help the learner in the future. However, Wible suggests that ‘instrumentalists are not concerned with the truth’ (2001, p.1050).
The Instrumentalist view that ‘schools must impart the information and skills that will be useful later in life.’ (Higgins 2008 p.11) I do consider, because long-term the child will go out and get a job, however as discussed earlier play is a recognized and researched way of learning.
My mixed ability emphasis is drawn form a passion for inclusion, I do feel that it is very easy to become dissalusioned and bitter with policy, however policy is written by well-educated people (article) these well-educated people are often from Oxbridge universitys, but I feel its too much of an assumption to consider that these policies are written in a classical humanist mindset, I do however have it lingering at the back of my mind that policy is written by people who are the sucessful product of the educational system, so the barriers to education that they consider are not first hand. Blass et al suggest that it might not be a onesize fits all outlook to education, they empasise how life can differ in a deprived are and they suggest policy should ‘meet local needs’ (2011 p.15) I feel that policy can also exclude children who are SEND Glazzard also suggests that If a SEN child has failure, it can often be blamed on the child, not the system (p.183, 2013 The green paper (2011 DfES) , quited in glazzard, 2013, that ‘over identification of SEN.. then excuses failure’ (p.185)) am aware that after reading Glazzards other work, often he looks at ideas in a ‘whistleblowing’ stance, I do feel that this is true, that the education system is, in fact, a system run for often a more sinsister profit (instrumentalist) and political agenda (Classical Humanist) . I do feel that often issues such as poverty are ‘glossed over’ although there are provisions put in place to help these children.
My mission statement emphasizes ‘playing’. During my teaching placements I did struggle for time, to make sure every subject got a fair amount of coverage, I did notice what I taught was pre-planned by the other school and most of it was worksheet based. With the suggestion that ‘curriculum .. is being sanitized’ (rikowski, 2008 in Hill, n.d p.28), I did notice that there was little emphasis on the children having time to play. I found the age group I had the most flexibility with was the reception. As a teacher, I relished in the fact I could set up small worlds and areas for these children to play in. During my placement, I saw an importance of play in the children’s learning. Atkinson et al (n.d p.20) suggest that the evidence for the impact play has on a child’s development is well established. Vygotsky believed that ‘play creates the zone of proximal development of the child.’ (https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1138861.pdf ) and Friedrich Froebel (1782- 1852) referenced in, ‘(p.622 Tahirsylaj, A. (2017) ‘pushed for play-based learning’.
I saw this often in the form of role play. The children would take on the role of a parent or pretend to be an elf in the Santa’s grotto I had created.
Looking at this within the ideologies of education I feel it reflects the progressive ideology.
Instrumentalism can make children with SEND ‘redundant’ (:Oasodpi and Svenson, 2014 p.785) Glazzard suggested that the neoliberal society we live in marginalizes children who can’t follow what is expected of them by society (p.183 2013) as they could be overlooked in a society that values performance over the person (liasidou and Svensson 2014 p.785) I feel its more and more important to make sure education makes children happy and feel valued and safe. Though using play, it becomes accessible for all children, it’s a time of worry-free, no pressure and a time for them to learn and enjoy themselves.
Ken Robinson, et al, quoted in Tomlzii and Topala suggested that there needed to be ‘ a new balance in teaching and curriculum’ (2014,p.387) although this was before the new, 2014 curriculum. The new balance suggests that there should be time for other things, which you can assume could be play. Although play is important to children and their development, Frank, suggested that although progressive teaching is seen as allowing children to become successful ‘across their schooling career’ (p.48 frank 2015).
However during my teaching placements, there have been times where I have fallen into the Classical humanist idea of creating what , Tomlzii and Topala talk call a ‘homo encyclopedius’ (2014, p.587) when learning spellings and times tables, the way the school got the children to learn them was through rote learning, the children could superficially recall the facts but struggled to apply them. On reflection, I think I would struggle to teach in a way that totally excluded the classical humanist ideology.
In conclusion, I feel I can see the importance of all the ideologies, they are all very important to be considered, I do find my mission statement more along the progressive ideology. I do however admire the Classical humanist because it puts education on the red carpet, it makes you want to be the best, however, the inclusive teacher in me, despises the fact at how elite and exclusive it is.
On the other hand, I feel I have an affinity to reconstructivist because it gives the illusion that teachers can change the world, within this idea it would be amazing to give everyone the best chance they can have, promote social change and become a superhero, yet policy and practicality stand in the way. This is reflected in my mission statement.
Realistically for society to function we need people to be intelligent and go to university to add to the economy, a very instrumentalist view but aligning with classical humanism if university wasn’t ‘elite’ then who would do the manual jobs nobody else wanted to do, like clean toilets and pick litter.
I feel it is a fine balance that makes the country work as it does, and although it would be in the children’s interests to make them all super intelligent I feel the most important part of schooling is for the child to be happy, so with that in mind, I feel the progressive ideology is now the one I feel has the best fit for my mission statement.